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The U.S. Could Be The World's Top Oil Producer By Fall

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard.

The International Energy Agency announced earlier this year that U.S. oil production will rise above Russia’s, making the nation the world’s top oil producer by 2023. But last week, the CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources set a much shorter timeline – the U.S. is now poised to become the world’s top oil producer as early as this fall.

Loren Steffy, an energy industry writer and a contributor at Texas Monthly, says Russia, the world’s top oil producer, currently produces about 12 million barrels a day. Steffy says that the U.S. could pass Russia, but stresses that the amount of oil produced varies, depending on current and predicted demand.

“What we are looking at in terms of the projection and what Pioneer Natural Resources CEO Scott Sheffield is talking about, is that the U.S. would cross about 12 million barrels a day, which could happen this year if everything stays the way it is, if prices stay at their current level and that kind of thing,” Steffy says. “But as with anything else, if you start making predictions about oil production and oil prices, things can change pretty rapidly.”

Steffy says that despite the fluctuation factor, the U.S. has steadily increased its oil production due to hydraulic fracturing technology.  

“[Hydraulic fracturing] has really opened up shale reservoirs across the country, especially in Texas and the Permian Basin,” Steffy says. “You’ve seen a lot of reservoirs that we simply didn’t think we could get out of have become a pretty abundant resource.”

Steffy says that ultimately, the U.S. oil production increase will keep the cost down at the pump, but supply and demand could drive production down if the price drops too low. Steffy says that increased oil production in the U.S. drove the price down to $30 a barrel just a few years ago.

“[The price drop] really hurt a lot of producers in the U.S. You had a lot of wells that were shut in and a lot of production that was shut in,” Steffy says. “What we are seeing now now that prices have come back, we are seeing a lot of that production come back online. But certainly, if prices drop significantly, below let’s say $50 a barrel, you’d see a pull-back here in the U.S.”

Written by Haley Butler.

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